Darkness had just descended over the DFW suburb. Standing in the middle of a dark parking lot, I looked up. What would I see?
A blanket of dark gray greeted my eyes. It looked rather musty and dirty. Here and there, scattered widely across the expanse, a few lights dotted the gray. But they did not twinkle. They did not shine. They were just there, little specks that just barely stood out against the background.
Had I been home that night, the view would have been very different.
Rather than a dark, fuzzy gray, the blanket above me would have been a deep, solid black stretching as far as the eye could see. Liberally salted across the expanse would have been innumerable lights, twinkling merrily to the great pleasure of viewers on earth below. Some would even show off their colors. Reds, blues, yellows, and greens flickering in the night. Only a few stars would neglect to twinkle, their distance allowing them visibility but not personality.
What was the difference?
Not the sky. It was the same sky. Although it takes me a good six to seven hours to drive from my Arkansas home to the DFW area, it is not enough distance to put us under a different sky. The same constellations hover over us. The same planets rise and set with only slight adjustments in their potential visibility.
Yes, it was the same sky.
The difference was the earthly surroundings.
We live in the third largest county in Arkansas – geographically, that is. But the population density is only nineteen people per square mile. As you can well imagine, we do not produce much light pollution out here!
Being outside in the country at night is breath-taking. In the city, it is much more mundane. Airplanes are more visible than the stars. It can be hard to remember the beauty of God’s astronomical creation when the city sky is all we know.
Where do we live spiritually?
Do you see the spiritual application here? What we can see varies greatly depending on our position, our surroundings, and our circumstances.
But what is really there does not change.
Is it hard to see evidence of God’s power right now? Is His presence masked a bit by your location in life? I would ask you to keep two things in mind.
First and foremost, visible and real are not the same. Our spiritual eyes play tricks on us just as our physical eyes do sometimes. We have to rely on what we know to be true. The stars have not disappeared. They cannot be seen right now, but they are still there. They are still magnificent. And at some point we will be back in a place where we can see and enjoy them again!
Secondly, remember this: Just because you cannot see the stars does not mean you are in the wrong place! There are times in our spiritual lives when we live in both places. We have opportunities to see clearly, but we also have times when the view is obscured. Not by sin. Not by error. Just by the our current position in life. After all, infinitely more stars exist than can even be seen in the unpolluted country sky. There is always something we cannot see.
No, visible and real are not the same. Which do you trust today?